Tag Archives: christmas pyramid

German Christmas markets 2011

Over the past few weeks in most German towns, little wooden huts have sprung up on squares and along the main shopping streets. Behind shutters we heard scuffling and hammering, mysterious bags and boxes were unloaded, cables laid, lights tested… wafts of aniseed and cinnamon and ginger…  a general air of mystery and excitment.

And now, this weekend most of the Christmas market stalls are finally opening up. The bratwurst and waffles are sizzling, the wine mulling, the stalls full of craftwork and sweetmeats are overflowing with novelties.

I walked through part of the Duisburg Christmas market yesterday lunchtime and got an impression of what they have to offer there… for a start the choice of food was surprising. One stall was just beginning to roast a whole hog…

Spit roast

Why settle for a Bratwurst when you could eat the whole pig?

Another was starting to flame-grill some salmon…

Salmon smoking

The smoking ban clearly doesn't extend to salmon...

Traditional sweets, nuts and candied fruits are everywhere…

Toasted Almonds

It wouldn't be Advent without toasted almonds

Being only a short distance from the Dutch border, there are plenty of specialities from the Netherlands too – sold from Dutch gabled huts

Poffertjes

Poffertjes are technically a Dutch speciality - but the Germans love them

I’m not entirely sure why there was a Viking ship in the town centre selling Glühwein – but it certainly stood out. I didn’t see any Vikings, and the figure of Saint Nicholas on board looked decidedly tipsy…

Glühwein stand

Glühwein served from a Viking longship? Well, I suppose it gets cold up North....

No Christmas market is complete without a German Christmas Pyramid. This one was a fine specimen because it actually has an integrated Glühwein stand…  no German city should be without one!

German Christmas Pyramid

Glühwein served from a German Christmas Pyramid

 

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Filed under About Germany, food, German festivals, Life in Germany

German Christmas pyramids

Christmas is the time of year when you construct pyramids in your house.  I don’t mean a Valley of the Kings stone affair… I mean a wooden one with candles and a windmill on the top. Obviously.

The Christmas pyramid is a sort of Heath-Robinson contraption which uses the convection current of hot air from candles to power a windmill and spin the pyramid. Unlike most other German inventions, this one has absolutely no practical purpose. None whatsoever.

Most German homes are content with a small table-top affair these days. Something that looks like this.

By Richard Huber (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

German towns and cities tend to build rather grander versions – often displayed at the local Christmas market.  The figures on the different tiers of the pyramids rotate, to indicate to people that they have drunk rather more Glühwein than is good for them.  Or something.

Creative Commons

Originally these decorative carved pyramids date from the middle ages and symbolise light driving away darkness at Christmas time (literally and figuratively).  They pre-date the Christmas tree, which became a more popular decoration – probably due to it being easier to chop down a tree and bring it into the house than to spend months whittling away carving a wooden Christmas pyramid.

Many Germans still use real candles to illuminate their Christmas trees – at the annual risk of burning the house down, of course. What is it about Christmas that suddenly makes an otherwise sensible nation forget about Vorsprung durch Technik?

Wikimedia Commons

In the old days families would add to their collection of wooden figures in the Christmas pyramid every year, in the same way that nowadays people buy a few new baubles for the Christmas tree. For those who are trying to decide between a real or an artificial Christmas tree this year – a Christmas Pyramid could be the most amazing artificial tree you ever bought!

Alternatively, if you start carving now, you might have your very own pyramid ready for Christmas 2011….

 

 

 

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Filed under About Germany, children in germany, german art, German festivals, Life in Germany